Of the 417 students in my graduating class at Austin High School, Brad Zellar wasn’t one I knew very well. He was a caste above me socially, the student council president. I don’t know if we said a word to each other in four years. Gregarious and handsome, he appears six times in our senior yearbook, not counting the front and back covers. In one photo, he is crowning the homecoming queen. I had no idea he was smart.
Then one day I heard Brad’s voice on Minnesota Public Radio, and I called in to say hi. He was the owner of a bookstore at the time, and he was recommending gift books for the holidays. I don’t recall their titles, but I do remember thinking, “He likes the dark stuff.”
After that, I started noticing Brad’s byline here and there, in City Pages, or the Twin Cities Reader, perhaps, and The Rake. He wrote book reviews, articles about baseball, and social commentaries, all with a bit of an edge.
So when I got the notice from the Minnesota History Center about Suburban World: The Norling Photos, an exhibit based on my high school classmate’s new book, I called up friends from Austin, along with my parents and said, “Zellar is writing about suburbia? Weird. Let’s show up for this.” I’m glad we did. read more »